The gig economy. Knowledge industries. Internet-based business. Online/remote/freelance work.
Whatever you want to call it, we now live in a world where it’s possible to make a full-time living by punching buttons and clicking images on a magic screen that connects you to the whole darn world.
And that means instead of your ability to physically produce as many widgets as possible on an assembly line in some factory somewhere, your value in the world of work comes from your knowledge, skills, and creativity.
Your value comes from your head.
You are a unique expert with great value to offer.
Yes, other people can do what you do, but the great thing about being a knowledge economy worker is that at the end of every project, you get to say, “I did it my way.”
(Apologies to Frank Sinatra.)
Yes, there are other people who do the same type of work you do. But nobody can do that work the same way. Nobody else brings your combination of insights, life experiences, and qualifications to the field.
You are unique. You are talented. And you invest time & money into developing your skills because you know that your mind is your greatest asset.
That’s what pushes you to be the best.
Because as the smart and ambitious person you are, you recognize that time only moves one way (forward) and that the strategy that got you to the top of your field – the strategy that involved reading books and blogs and listening to podcasts and watching tutorials and finding mentors and messing around on side projects on weekends and mucking about in various apps and programs – the strategy that made you the kickass professional you are… is the same one that will keep you at the top of your field.
But you already know all of that.
Just ask coLabber Stephanie King, who recognizes that professional skills development is really no different from buying tools or equipment for a more traditional business:
“Warren Buffett lives by two investing rules:
1. Never lose money.
2. Never forget rule number one.
I try to keep this in mind when it comes to investing in myself. Working in the knowledge economy, effective collaboration is entirely dependent on continuous skills development. Simply put, when it comes to professional advancement, learning cannot stop. Investing in your own brain pays dividends, allowing you to keep pace with innovation.”
Stephanie quickly discovered the importance of skills development on a collaborative project, when a client needed her to design a solution that could connect a CRM with a marketing automation tool.
“I signed up for webinars, I read how-to articles, and I even connected with former colleagues who were administrating this CRM. I quickly developed my skills so I could act as an interim CRM administrator for my client, so they could resolve the integration challenges.”
Or ask coLabber Timm Stokke, whose entire industry is defined by an arms race of skills development:
“As a software developer, keeping up with the the latest tech and trends is important to stay relevant. That’s not to say you should always strive to use the latest hotness, but being in the loop on where the industry is heading helps me know which paths to try when I come across challenges I can’t solve optimally using my existing knowledge.”
Timm’s ability to develop new skills is a basic minimum requirement for creating effective solutions that don’t just work today, but will also work tomorrow.
In other words, prioritizing up-skilling pays dividends because it means you can serve your clients better, provide better solutions, and look like a supergenius in front of important people.
Becoming a knowledgeable professional is the first step toward finding your freedom.
Because once you know your stuff, you catapult yourself into the realm of The Expert… and people will always work to accommodate an Expert.
But even more than that…becoming a knowledgeable professional allows you to work with other knowledgeable professionals to produce something even greater than either of you could create on your own.
That’s the essence of what we at coLab call “The Head”.
And it’s the very first step on the journey toward AWESOME stuff.
The second step? Is The Heart.
Which is what we’ll be talking about next week.
Until then… keep rockin’ your thing, you expert person, you.